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When a Romantic Getaway
    Turns into a Let Me Get Away

Dear Philippa:

After two years of dating, my boyfriend and I just took our first real vacation together. What we thought would be a romantic getaway turned out very differently than we had hoped. Now my boyfriend says we need to take a break from each other. He is basing the future of our relationship on this bad vacation experience. To be honest, our relationship has always been a bit volatile. When it is very good, it is wonderful, but when it's bad, all we do is fight. We love each other but neither of us knows if the other is "the one." Is my boyfriend right-should we break up?

�Kelly, Chicago, Illinois


Dear Kelly:

This story reminds me of a time I went away to a cabin in the woods for a romantic weekend with the man I was dating. It turned out he had also invited another couple. His idea of fun was playing cards and just hanging around. I wanted to get out and hike and enjoy nature. The other couple acted like rabbits all weekend, and while we never saw them, we certainly heard them. By the end of the weekend, he and I couldn't wait to get back to our respective homes, alone. Why can vacations strain or break relationships? I think this is because the time we spend away together with someone acts like an incubator that heats up any major incompatibilities that already exist in the relationship.

In your case, the vacation was the straw that broke the camel's back. It sounds like maybe it is a matter of your love having grown without the compatibility being there in place first. Ideally, if you could play the tape back and return to the beginning of the relationship, you would take the time to decide if you are really right for each other in terms of overall compatibility before getting deeply enmeshed in love. Your boyfriend sounds like he is facing some harsh realities. This is painful for both of you. If you both really want to try and save your relationship, you may want to consider seeking couples counseling.

My advice would be for both of you to take the time apart to define the kind of person with whom you can be truly happy. Think about your values, goals, and preferred lifestyle. Then come together and try to talk objectively about what each of you want, where the differences are, what things are not negotiable, and what things are. You may have to face the painful truth that your incompatibilities are too great and that loving each other is not enough. I hope this is not the case, but if it is, you need to find the strength to let each other go and find happiness. You each deserve to have someone in your life with whom you have both love and harmony. If it is necessary, be willing to let go of each other, so that you can each find your special person.


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